What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see the following list of names: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Weiner, Mark Foley, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards?
I assume most of your answers are something along the lines of “political scandal,” and that’s exactly my point. Each of these men worked themselves to the top ranks of the political spectrum, to posts that offered them the opportunity to do great good, and instead they’ll be forever remembered for their misdeeds. If you take a look at the polls, the public opinion of our government as a whole is not exactly high right now, and these individuals are not helping that cause.
My point here is a damaged reputation is mighty hard to repair, which is why reputation management is so critically important. One of the main missions of the National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA) is to ensure that precast concrete maintains a good reputation, and we do that through the implementation of our Plant Certification program, the creation of educational opportunities for owners and production workers and much more.
Our passion for ensuring members are producing quality products made the pill we had to swallow the other week that much harder. Our industry received quite a bit of negative press coverage for the failings of one plant. If you didn’t see the story, the long and short of it is a federal case was filed against a plant that supplied products that did not meet specifications for a government project. As a result, its quality control director plead guilty to making false statements and could face five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of three counts.
The consequences of such actions are far reaching. Just as one politician’s misdeeds can affect the public opinion of our entire government, the lack of quality in one plant undermines everyone and denigrates the work of plants across the country that make the effort every day to ensure their reputations are strong. This holds especially true when it makes the mainstream news.
The government, and all customers for that matter, have a right to expect that the products they pay for meet or exceed all of their specifications. If you don’t agree with something in the specs, make your case for a change. If that doesn’t work, you have one of two choices: You can either adapt to the customer’s requirements and make its products they way the customer wants, or you can turn the job down. There are no other options.
Understanding this is simply customer service 101. The customer is always right and you have to give them what they pay for. When we do anything else, we undercut the trust that we have worked so hard to develop and we damage the reputation of an entire industry.
Robb Smithson says
It is so much more than just a quality issue. It is total customer service. It starts at the quoting process. Going back after the fact to negotiate an item or specification a precaster doesn’t like or wants to change can lead to a lack of trust with our customers. If you promise your customers the world you better be prepared to deliver.
Jim Wright says
Your comments are right on target. Our reputation is not only priceless relative to our customers, but also in the marketplace competing with alternative products. I agree with you, if precast concrete is to remain the product of choice, there are no other options.